Piston Slap: Putting Yourself First Via Remote Start?

piston slap putting yourself first via remote start

Jonathan writes:


I live in Chicago (actually a northern suburb) and own two cars: 05 Scion xB and an 03 Accord (4 cyl Auto). Due to logistics, day care, scheduling, and the like, both cars are used every day for the 1.5 mile drive to different train stations. And as you can imagine, we have some mighty frigid days here in the Windy City, and getting into a frozen car is not a whole lot of fun.

So I was thinking about installing an after-market remote starter in one or both of the cars. My questions are: Is this EVER a good idea? And if so, which types/brands should I look for and what professional installation gotcha’s should I beware of? And will the installation possibly reduce the future reliability of my car’s electrical/starter systems with the installation of such a device.

Thank you,


Sajeev answers:

Assuming a quality aftermarket installation, my question to you is: when is this ever NOT a good idea?

I only have one reason against this upgrade. There’s a (valid) school of thought that you should not let a cold motor idle around with cold oil: taking forever to warm up with no engine load, adding a ton of friction to the system for no good reason. But OTOH, who gives a crap?

The extra engine wear could be minimized with a switch to fully synthetic oil. And sometimes it gets so frickin’ cold outside that the motor needs to idle a bit just to safely drive the car on nearly frozen fluid. And most people don’t keep cars long enough for this type of engine wear to matter. And replacement motors from the junkyard are cheap…

I think you see my point. Find a reputable automotive aftermarket trim installer in your area (Yelp.com, ask local car dealerships, etc) and buy a kit they recommend to make this as easy as possible. With those two hurdles cleared, you shouldn’t have any problems for years to come. Especially on the somewhat simplistic electrical systems of late model Hondas and Toyotas, as opposed to something BMW-like. Fingers crossed on that!

Question is, does anyone north of my hot H-town homeland disagree with this assessment?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 61 comments
  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Aug 24, 2012

    I've had a remote starter on my last 4 vehicles, and wouldn't be without one. I set the heat controls and vents to blow on the steering wheel, making it tolerable (Gloves seem to do little, no matter how expensive they are)for my hands, which are messed up from way too many fights as a bouncer, and from working on cars for 25 years year round. Where I work, the parking lot is totally exposed to wind in the winter, and it's really nice to have a warm car to get into. Also, I have two very old dogs, and when I pick up dinner someplace, I get out of the car, hit the starter, and keep them cool for the 3 minutes or so until I come back. Most of the time, they don't even wake up when I get out.

  • SherbornSean SherbornSean on Aug 31, 2012

    Poor Jonathan, He just wanted advice on whether to get a remote start so he could keep his kids warm during frigid Chicago winters, and he gets called fat, lazy, and hard on his engines. How many of the "best and brightest" who recommend putting their kids in a stroller for an hour a day in severe weather actually have young children themselves?

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